James Buysee: the Philadelphia office

Interview and article prepared for the Philadelphia Business Journal, as filed last week, without edits, to run in today’s edition.

James T. Buysee is a one man regional office.

Last year when he was being courted to head up North American operations for BMS, a reinsurance intermediary based in London, the subject of his moving was never discussed. Not to company offices in Chicago, Minneapolis or Connecticut. Not even to Dallas, the center of the firm’s U.S. operations.

“I didn’t bring it up,” the Paoli resident said. “I like it here.”

So for now, Buysee, who started on Feb. 1, is charged with better uniting those disparate locations from an altogether separate one. He is splitting the leading role with Anne Marie Roberts, president and chief operating officer, who is based in Dallas, one of those offices Buysee isn’t in.

“Those folks in London decided they needed another person on the ground,” he said. “More arms and legs.”

He is meant to focus on fostering relationships, finding new people, resources and business productions. The company has seen rapid growth in recent years, but to do more, there needs to be a better united strategy among U.S. offices, he said. In the next 18 months or less, he hopes to do that.

“Recently our growth has outpaced our internal systems,” he said. “So now it’s about tying the teams together into a single cohesive company with a single culture.”

BMS was born as a correspondent broker based across the Atlanic Ocean but is increasingly looking to have a larger presence in the United States.

“I hope to be a big part of that transition,” he said. With nearly 30 years in the reinsurance brokerage business, he could be the right man for the job.

But he’ll be doing it here.

Soon Buysee might be asked to develop a small staff and perhaps develop a presence in Philadelphia, he said.

“I don’t have any intentions of leaving.”

See other reporting by Christopher Wink here.

Mike Schmidt launches wine for charity… seriously

What fun to cover. This a brief for the Philadelphia Business Journal today.theslugger.jpg

Mike Schmidt, the Hall of Fame former Phillies third baseman, has taken to wine-making for charity. Along with two other members of the 500 Home Run Club, former Chicago Cubs shortstop Ernie Banks and standout switch hitter Eddie Murray, Schmidt has teamed with Eos Estate Winery in California to produce three wines, each using one of the major leaguers’ names and career home run totals. All of the proceeds will go to a philanthropic cause of the athlete’s choosing. Schmidt has decided his profits will go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, based in Maryland. There is the Mike Schmidt 548 Zinfandel, the Ernie Banks 512 Chardonnay, and the Eddie Murray 504 Cabernet. They can be preordered now, though they won’t be available in stores until May. A bottle is expected to cost $17.”

We’ll have a carafe of the Mike Schmidt 548 Zinfandel, maybe something in a 2009.

But, I couldn’t possibly top the press release I received.I happily shared with just about everyone one quotation I read while filing the story. It came from Liz Banks, wife of Ernie Banks and president of the 500 Home Run Club.

With 548 home runs, Mike Schmidt was such a quality ballplayer that for him to launch a quality wine for charity seemed a natural fit.”

Natural fit, indeed.

Medical ailment interrupts interview

Evdoctor.jpgery once in a while, the grind of reporting throws you a gem.You may see only frustration when someone cancels an interview you were going to conduct for a story you were writing. Indeed, at first, I did, too. But then, I got an email from the company’s communications director explaining why, and his words were, indeed, far more meaningful than a 25-minute line of questioning.


We have a problem. [Name] has an emergency doctor’s appt [sic] this morning as he either has a broken foot or gout. I couldn’t even make this up and don’t even know what gout is…

…I am not making this up. Seriously. Hilarious.

Free consulting: latest story in the Philadelphia Business Journal


In today’s edition of the Philadelphia Business Journal, I have a good clip on MBA students in Philadelphia getting practical experience by consulting small businesses in the region.

See its start on the PBJ site. Further reading requires a subscription, so read the text I submitted on this site here.

Writing this story, as a student at Temple, one of the colleges I was asked to cover, brought up some interesting ethical dilemmas. Read more on that here.

Perry Weinstock: doctoring across the river

Interview and article prepared for the Philadelphia Business Journal, as filed last week, without edits, to run in yesterday’s edition.


His colleagues told him that a move from Philadelphia to New Jersey was a mistake.

Ten years ago, though, Dr. Perry J. Weinstock made the move. He was recruited by Cooper University Hospital in Camden, N.J. as the director of clinical cardiology and associate head of his division in 1998.  For ten years he served the growing research university and served it well. In January it was announced that Weinstock would be made head of the division of cardiovascular disease at Cooper.

“I’ve waited ten years for this promotion,” he said.

Before Cooper,  he was the director of cardiology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital with a nice office and patients he liked. So, at first, he rebuked calls from Cooper. But the calls persisted enough that he crossed the Delaware River for a tour. He was impressed with the facilities and staff.

“To this day I love Jefferson,” he said. “But, Cooper has really emerged as a premiere research hospital in the Delaware Valley. It is truly an honor to lead such a fine institution.”

Still, more work is to be done, he said. Weinstock has plans to expand the hospital’s preventative cardiology practice.

“I also want to promote quality,” he said. “At all levels of cardiovascular care: inpatient, outpatient, prevention, treatment after the fact.”

He thinks his background in practiced cardiology, rather than strictly an academic, leadership or supervisory role, will help.

“I have actually worked on the battle lines,” he said. “If that general sits in the ivory tower and never gets his fingernails dirty, it’s hard to listen to him.”

For it, he has a lesson, ten years in the making.

“There’s life on the other side of the river.”

See other reporting by Christopher Wink here. Above, an artist’s rendering of Cooper University Hospital after impending renovations, taken from the hospital’s Web site.

Philadelphia region with new heroes, bank cash

Firstrust Bank - plaque for donation

Interview and article prepared for the Philadelphia Business Journal, as filed last week, without edits, to run in tomorrow’s edition.

Heroes aren’t born.They’re made, at places like the Montgomery County Tactical Response Training Center.

The 23,000-square foot weapons and anti-terrorism building in Conshohocken was built at a cost of $10.8 million with the help of more than 50 corporate and private donors, like Firstrust Bank.

“As a bank, safety and security are important for us,” said Tim Abell, president and chief operating officer of the Conshohocken-based bank.

With nearly a third of their 24 locations, including their headquarters, tucked in Montco, it makes sense that they would be willing to put up their $100,000 contribution.

Late last month, Firstrust and the other donors that helped see the center’s construction through to its opening last November received recognition from the Police Chiefs’ Association of Montgomery County.

The center, which is on the grounds of the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Campus, will train thousands of law enforcement officers, emergency medical service technicians and firefighters.

“There are so many great causes,” Abell said. “But these are things that we think fit our mission.”

It isn’t the only philanthropy in which the 74-year-old bank involves itself. Each year, it gives about $1 million to various causes, including a decade-long relationship with City Year, which unites young people throughout the country in one year of full-time service.

Still, this cause isn’t overshadowed. The money that Firstrust donated went to fund the construction of the center’s firing range, preparing law enforcement officers to use deadly force, if ever necessary.

“You wouldn’t want to be in the line of real fire and have it be the first time you’re going through that,” said Abell. “Fortunately I wasn’t the target. I was at the other end.”

See other reporting by Christopher Wink here.

Everette Scott: where sports and entertainment meet legally

Interview and article prepared for the Philadelphia Business Journal, as filed last week, without edits, to run in yesterday’s edition.

Evescott-jr-everette.jpgrette L. Scott Jr. wants to protect your rights.

You and everyone else with a chance of being a star someday.

“In this world of multimedia and the Internet, things have changed night and day in the last five years,” said Scott, who joined the Center City law firm Spector Gadon & Rosen last month to lead its sports and entertainment group.

The man left a spot as president and chairman of the Cherry Hill-based Sports and Entertainment Management Group to fill a void of legal knowledge he saw in his work.

“If you’re an athlete today, you need to market yourself in a new way,” he said. “And understand your legal rights.”

With the sizable reputation of Spector Gadon behind him, Scott hopes to be at the forefront of marrying Web based marketing and promotion with his background in sports and entertainment law.

“We’re interested in being, not only a local leader, but also the industry leader,” Scott said.

By doing things like what he’s done with client Nate Jones, an undersized cornerback most recently with the Dallas Cowboys. Jones wanted to secure a life after the NFL, so Scott is working to broker a deal in which the former Rutgers University star has an advisory role in an online show about high school athletes pursuing their dreams after graduation.

“Sports and entertainment are one in the same,” he said.

Scott sees the smaller Philadelphia market as an opportunity.

“For the Philadelphia community to get involved in this is great,” he said. “Folks like to consider New York or Atlanta or even Hollywood the conduits for this kind of work, but we have the best minds in the region for this.”

The former standout linebacker at Philadelphia’s Central High School knows the score, but he’s playing with his law degree now.

“Today, any person, if they have aspirations, if you think you got what it takes, there is nothing that is preventing you from getting to the marketplace,” he said. “But you sure better have protection of your legal rights.”

See other reporting by Christopher Wink here.

Sending soldiers corporate love in 'Hugs from Home'


Text as submitted to the Philadelphia Business Journal last week for tomorrow’s edition.

Just because a business is getting started, doesn’t mean it can’t show some heart.

Last year, Morristown, N.J.-based Office Furniture Partnership, with a new Philadelphia location, sent nearly 1,000 care packages to U.S. military personnel serving abroad as part of its ‘Hugs from Home’ campaign.

This year, OFP’s small Old City office, less than a year old, wanted to get involved.

“When I saw these guys doing it last year, it is just heartwarming thing to do,” said Chuck Andre, principal of the Philadelphia office.

So, they’ve added more than 150 tubes to this year’s company-wide total of 2,500.

They send clear tubes to their varied clients, asking them to fill them with household items, letters, and treats.

“Things they might not get, chewing gum, foot powder, band aids,” Andre said. “We got a cigar vendor to just stuff a tube with cigars, and we get photos of these services men, they are ecstatic, smoking these cigars.”  (Depicted above)

OFP picks up the postage costs, which could be higher than $8,000.

The company also has a small office in New York City, which has helped similarly.

“I guess it’s tri-state effort,” he said.

The importance of this help is not lost on Andre.“As a business in Philadelphia, trying to get established, its really positive thing to do,” he said.

“Maybe next year we’ll do a 1,000.”

Photograph, courtesy of OFP, of members of the 101st Airborne Division, based out of For Campbell, Ky., depicted in Bayji, Iraq.

See other reporting by Christopher Wink here.

Kate Flynn: the health of the Philadelphia region

Interview and article prepared for the Philadelphia Business Journal, as filed last week, without edits, to run in this Friday’s edition.

The Health Care Improvement Foundation works with all of the Delaware Valley’s 60 hospitals, each year, in one capacity or another, in the hopes of improving common best practices in and around Philadelphia.flynn-kate-j.jpg New president Kate Flynn only hopes to carry on the nonprofit’s mission.

“I want to continue the work that we’ve started, extending beyond the walls of the hospital, to embrace and engage other parts of the health care community,” she said. “What we have in common is the patient.”

Early January saw Flynn moving to HCIF in Center City, after consulting for the group while with VHA East Coast in Trevose.

“We engage hospitals and health care providers to work towards standard approaches across, if we can, the entire region,” she said. “We convene and act as facilitator.”

The group, which receives funding from Independence Blue Cross, is aligned with the Delaware Valley Health Care Council, and works with the ECRI Institute, among other partners, organizes forums and workshops for the region’s health care leaders.

The group has been a leader in the fight against MRSA, a staph infection, by working with communities and health care facilities to educate the public on its dangers.

“It takes a village to make that happen,” she said.

An ongoing task of theirs is to increase collaboration between the region’s medical facilities to increase patient safety.

“The specialization of medical care has done so much, but the unintended consequence is a ton of communication issues,” she said. “Philadelphia has world class medical institutions and medical research and education for all kinds of medical and allied health. We want to bring Philadelphia’s reputation for patient safety to that same world class level.”

They involve themselves in broader concepts of safety, too.

Currently, the group is working with 20 regional health care providers on an environmentally friendly pilot hospital. They’ve also assisted in coordinating disaster preparedness strategies in Philadelphia and beyond.

Now Flynn is charged with these tasks and more.

“Our goal, as an organization,” she said. “Is to make the Delaware Valley the safest place in the world to receive medical care.”

See other reporting by Christopher Wink here.

Saving 2nd Base one shirt at a time


Article prepared for the Philadelphia Business Journal, as filed last week, without edits, to run in next Friday’s edition.

The unique relationship between Save Second Base, which sells tee-shirts and other apparel with its logo, and the Kelly Rooney Foundation, which raises funds for local cancer foundations, is a story of philanthropy born in the wake of death, with a twist unlike most.

On July 11, 2006, Rooney lost a four year battle with breast cancer.

“She was always funny,” said Erin Dugery, Rooney’s sister.

Before she died, Rooney, the jokester she was, thought how the phrase ‘save second base’ and its teenage interpretation now had special meaning to her, days from becoming the victim of breast cancer, which stole her life, her family, her very womanhood.

So, in the throes of Stage IV breast cancer, but still quick to smile, that was what Rooney named a team in her honor at a cancer fundraising walk: ‘save second base.’

Continue reading Saving 2nd Base one shirt at a time